Friday, June 14, 2024

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Exploring Other Candidates this Election

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By Maya Mackey

This is the third consecutive presidential election year where people feel forced to choose the “lesser of two evils.”  But when the current president is funding two wars—one of which is evolving into a full-blown genocide—while allowing inflation to skyrocket out of control at home and the former president is…Donald Trump…what exactly is “less evil?”

I offer some alternative choices for those who would like to hold onto their conscience and morality.

Claudia De La Cruz 

Claudia is a long-time activist and community organizer. Born and raised in New York, she studied forensic psychology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She went on to achieve her master’s degree in sociology at Columbia University. Her career achievements include organizing a teen group to protest the Iraq war, organizing Da Urban Butterflies, a Washington Heights-based leadership group for teens and young women of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent and becoming an adjunct lecturer at City University of New York.

Most recently, she has served as the Co-Executive Director and Co-Founder of  The People’s Forum in New York City—a political education space and cultural home for working-class organizers, leaders and intellectuals all over the world.  In her role at The People’s Forum, Claudia continued her work towards building internationalism and people-to-people solidarity.

A list of issues that are near and dear to Claudia’s heart include driving the U.S. Navy out of Puerto Rico and Cuba, the right to a free Palestine and the Black Lives Matter struggle.

Claudia is a faith-based leader who sees a direct line between the teachings of Christ and bringing justice and good news to the poor. She, along with her pick for VP, Karina Garcia, are running a socialist and feminist campaign. They are anti- capitalism and anti-imperialism.  They want to put the power back into the hands of workers and every day men and women who make the country run.

Karina Garcia

Karina Garcia is a Chicana organizer and popular educator who has been fighting for a better world since she was 17 years old. Issues of class warfare have dominated Karina’s scope of influence and activism. Karina has participated in struggles against landlord abuse, wage theft, and police brutality. Karina was also educated at Columbia University, earning her degree in Economics and later becoming a math teacher. Karina has been a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation for over fifteen years and works tirelessly in organizing the working class.

Claudia and Karina are running under The Party for Socialism and Liberation across the nation but specifically in California, you must register with the Peace and Freedom Party to cast a vote for them. Claudia and Karina won the Peace and Freedom Majority Vote earlier this year in the March 5th Midterm elections.

Together their mission is as follows:

  1. To turn the 100 largest corporations into public property (owned by the workers that make them a profit).
  2. To build a society based on fair housing prices, where only 10% of your income would be required to would cover your rent
  3.  All income and assets over ten million dollars would be subject to a 100% tax – with no exceptions or loopholes.
  4. Outlawing Corporate Lobbying. All campaigning should be publicly financed, and the different loopholes like Super PACs that billionaires use to get around donation limits would be immediately closed.
  5. Cut the military budget by 90%.
  6. End the war against African Americans.
  7. Defend the rights of Women and the LGBTQ community
  8. Saving the Planet – Fossil fuel corporations should immediately be taken over by the public and repurposed to generate renewable energy.

For an in-depth look at their campaign and policy values, you can visit their website, https://votesocialist2024.com or follow their Instagram account: caludia_karina2024.

Cornel West

Cornel West is less loyal to a particular party as he ran his primary campaign under The Independent Party, Green Party, Peace and Freedom Party, and People’s Party. Currently he is the founder of the Justice for All Party (California, Florida, North Carolina, Washington), Oregon Progressive Party, Unity Party of America (Colorado) and runs as an Independent elsewhere.

Cornel West’s platform is entirely rooted in “love, truth and justice” as stated during a recent interview with The Breakfast Club. Cornel West’s prestige lies in his intellectualism and soulful philosophy. An actual Christ-centered person for a change, West declares that “We can’t just be focused on the middle class. The litmus test is how Keisha and Jamal from the block are doing.” And he uses Matthew 25 as his reference “what you do for the least of these, you do for me.’”

He refers to D.E.I. (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) as “deodorized and sanitized language. They say that to hide the funk. No, we want truth. We want justice. What is diversity? We want reparations.”

A Truth teller who holds no shame and no qualms about his own humanness – “I have revolutionary tendencies and thuggish proclivities and I wrestle with these two every day” – it’s refreshing to be able to consider a candidate who is truly down-to-earth. There’s no pretense in how he speaks or how he moves.

He has listed his campaign as being Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Imperialist and Anti-White Supremacist, aka the three pillars of America. He has the gall to envision a NEW inclusive America where Black people are not an afterthought but a top priority to be taken care. His top priorities should he be elected are to attempt to eradicate poverty by instilling a $27 minimum wage in most states and an even bigger one in states where $27/hr is not livable, to win the fight for reparations, and ensuring that at every company and organization, the Board of Directors is made up of at minimum 33% of workers. I’ll admit his policy ideas are incredibly radical and not everyone is ready for radical, but the greatest changes are never “comfortable.” 

There was a time you didn’t need to wear a seatbelt in a car, and I’m sure when the idea was proposed there were people angrily ranting about their freedom being taken away (sound familiar) but look how much safer we are because someone decided to break the mode of what was “normal” and “acceptable.” For those who are completely detached from the propaganda that America is a model nation that other countries aspire to be, I recommend looking at Dr. West’s full list of intentions at https://CornelWest2024.com/platform.

Melina Abdullah

For his V.P. pick, West has chosen Melina Abdullah, founder of Black Lives Matter and professor of African- American studies at Cal State University, Los Angeles. Activism and social justice runs in Melina’s bones. Her grandfather, Gunter Reimann was a German-born Jew who organized against Hitler’s regime. Her father was an organizer and activist as well. Abdullah is a Howard (Bachelor’s) and USC (Master’s) graduate. Her entire career has been dedicated to the liberation of Black people and she still serves with the Black Lives Matter Grassroots chapter.  Melina has gone on to found the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation and is a frequent contributor to LA Progressives. She currently resides in Mid-City Los Angeles and is a member of the AKA sorority.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Finaly, there’s an American Legacy act to choose from as well. Robert F. Kennedy Jr, nephew of 35th President John F. Kennedy, and son of U.S. Attorney General and Senator, Robert Kennedy Sr, is running under The American Independent party. Despite his family legacy, RFKJ, said in an interview with Tommy G, that becoming president was not something he always dreamed of. In fact, his career up until now has been pretty apolitical in the formal sense.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr is an environmental lawyer, fighting cases against big corporations who end up harming the planet and the people who inhabit it.  His notable achievements include successfully suing dozens of municipalities to force compliance with the Clean Water Act during his tenure at RiverKeeper, winning up to 11 billion dollars from suing Monsanto and putting money back into the hands of farmers.

In an interview with YouTube Journalist Tommy G, Kennedy revealed what inspired him to run for president.  “I saw what was going on with my country. Particularly, I saw them shutting down 3.3 million businesses…never been done before with no scientific citation, no public hearings. It was just one bureaucrat who was able to order us to put on masks. All in violation of the Constitution of the First Amendment, Fifth Amendment, prohibitions that require due process and just compensation before you close somebody’s business. All the things I’ve been suing governments and corporations for forty years. All the democratic processes that they’re required to use, none of that happened.”

He goes on to compare how the 2020 -2022 era of the Covid Pandemic was handled to how our earliest presidents handled similar disarray with Smallpox and Malaria. Kennedy admires that that the constitution made no special exceptions in spite of public health crises and wants to live in an America that doesn’t budge on its professed ideals and standards – no matter what.  I’m not sure why extremities wouldn’t be made when a natural disaster like Covid happens, but I do commend him for wanting Americans to have a say in how they get to run their business and other assets.

His top three priorities for change are the national debt, healing the vitriol and division of the people, and closing out lobbyist procedures in place of “reformers and whistle-blowers”. Essentially, he is fighting for integrity in all of the major corporations that control how we live—Big  Pharma, the FDA, and so on.

He believes in exposing the sins of our government and working to rebuild with “civilians’ in mind. He wants to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. His official campaign website notes that this is the equivalent of what a blue-collar family could live on in 1967 and survive. But Mr. Kennedy seems to live in the past. It is 2024. Not 1967. $15 an hour is not going to put food on your tables these days. Especially in places like California, New York, and Washington State. A $15 per hour  minimum wage might bring the deep south out of poverty and into working class status but it’s not doing much for the rest of us.

Some of his better policy ideas include creating free childcare, cutting medicinal drug costs in half, and ending the Ukraine war. For a full list of his policy ideals and ambitions, visit https://kennedy24.com.

Nicole Shanahan i

Nicole Shanahan is RFKJ’s pick for vice president. Nicole Shanahan is an attorney and tech entrepreneur in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Healthy planet, healthy humans” is how Nicole describes the throughline of her career, which has long been centered around people, health, and the environment. She is the founder and president of Bia-Echo Foundation, which raises money to support leaders who are bringing change to the Criminal Justice Reform, Women’s Reproductive Rights and Environmental Health sectors.

The Bia-Echo Foundation both partners with existing institutions doing this work and helps to fund and create new ones. She has long been committed to issues at the intersection of tech, law, and justice and regularly helps facilitate high-level forums with global leaders, including Stanford Law’s Future Law conference. Given Kennedy’s own career as an environmental lawyer, it make senses why he chose Shanahan as a support and guide.

Nicole is 38 years old while Kennedy is 70. I think it’s great to see people from two vastly different generations (Kennedy being a Boomer and Shanahan being a Millennial) choosing to work together. I think more intergenerational leadership and cooperation could do a lot of good not only for the nation but for our society’s infrastructure and different sectors as well. The New York Times has a thorough report on Shanahan’s personal background for those interested.

While it should be obvious, it bears repeating every election cycle. There is no such thing as a perfect candidate because there is no such thing as a perfect person. And try as they might to dupe us, politicians +are not God. They are in fact human. Fallible, biased, emotional, and all other things. That being said, I truly believe the above candidates have a better and more honest outlook on what America truly is and not just what it professes to be on paper.

For the first time in my political life, I understand why people are refusing to vote. And for the first time, I won’t hold it against you if you don’t. But please know that there are other options and that you can indeed cast a vote for none of the two evils. The choice is yours. Use it wisely.